With the aim to investigate the potential of online internships in higher education, the ON-IT – Online Internship in Tourism project kicked off in March 2021, opening a first year rich in activities, challenges and accomplishments.
As in many other fields, the need for the project stemmed from the outbreak of the COVID pandemic that exposed the urgency of exploring alternative ways to ensure access to work-based learning experiences for university students.
While other types of online learning were already established and effective, remote work-based learning experiences were not common before the COVID emergency and forced universities, as well as companies, to find suitable solutions in a very short time.
The ON-IT project was thus devised to try and tackle the lack of established tools to implement successful online internships and to develop a guidance framework for quality virtual work-based learning experiences.
Co-funded by the Erasmus+ project of the European Union, the project gathers 7 partners from all over Europe, committed to explore the challenges and opportunities of remote work-based learning: the University of Macerata (Lead Partner, Italy); the University of La Laguna (Spain); JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Finland); Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management of the University of Rijeka (Croatia); Montpellier Business School (France); Mediterranean Universities Union – UNIMED (Italy); and IGCAT (Spain).
The project officially kicked off with the first coordination meeting of the ON-IT consortium, held online on 30 March 2021. The event was an opportunity to discuss the project’s objectives and upcoming activities and to lay the basis for the first project output: the experiences mapping led by UNIMED.
Conducted throughout the first six months of the project, the mapping exercise started with the collection of stories about virtual internships from different actors (university students, academic tutors, in-company tutors and internship office employees) through an online survey.
The information gathered is included in an online interactive map published on the ON-IT website that offers an overview of the arrangements and solutions implemented by universities in Europe and beyond for virtual internship and traineeship.
Semi-structured interviews were then held for a more in-depth follow-up of a selected number of stories. The analysis of the collected case studies culminated with the publication of the ON-IT report on Experiences of Virtual Internship in Europe.
The document includes a set of recommendations aimed at advancing the online work-based learning offer of higher education institutions. A crucial starting point to define guidelines for quality criteria, processes and rules for the implementation of effective online work-based learning models in higher education.
The report was officially launched at the ON-IT webinar ONLINE INTERNSHIP IN EUROPE: How can virtual internships ensure meaningful work-based learning experiences? held on 15 October 2021 in the framework of the Erasmus Days. The event included a panel discussion where different actors shared their first-hand experiences of online internship.
With its second online coordination meeting organised on 18 November 2021, the ON-IT consortium entered the following phase of the project that will lead to the publication of the ON-IT Guidelines.
By combining desk research on existing resources and data coming from the experiences mapping, the ON-IT Guidelines will contribute to the improvement of curricular internships by creating a structured guidance framework for successful online internships.
The ON-IT Guidelines will be then piloted through real cases of internships and traineeships that will be activated and analysed during the project’s life span, to identify potential critical points and main learning needs.
We wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and a happy new year, looking forward to our cooperation continuing throughout 2022 and beyond. Stay tuned to find out about new exciting outcomes of the ON-IT project!
About the ON-IT project
The ON-IT – Online Internship in Tourism project aims to develop a guidance framework and practical tools to design and implement quality online tourism internships in higher education. By actively engaging all actors involved in the internship experience, the ON-IT project focuses on equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to face the challenges of digital transformation in the labour market.